DENVER — It didn’t take long for Dustin Rewerts to witness Brock Farley’s strength.
Denver’s fifth-year head coach can still recall the power display Farley exhibited during his initial practice at the school.
“He came to the first practice and hit two home runs during BP (batting practice),” Rewerts recalls. “I knew as an eighth-grader that he would be something special.”
Farley has lived up to that initial impression. He already owned his school’s career RBI record before belting his 25th and 26th round-trippers Tuesday night to surpass the program’s previous record of 25.
“As an eighth-grader he was the biggest kid in his class and probably one of the bigger kids on the team, but he just continued to mature and get stronger,” Rewerts said. “Obviously he’s hitting more home runs now than he did. The big thing with him is he was always willing to take walks, but he’s really been patient at the plate and not trying to do too much.”
Farley has demonstrated an ability to catch up to fastballs throughout his career and credits support from family in helping to turn his biggest weakness into a strength. Brock’s older brother Luke — a former Columbus all-stater who went on to play at the University of Iowa — has joined his dad, Larry, in spinning curveballs during practice sessions inside the family’s basement batting cage.
“I really couldn’t hit a curveball that well,” Brock Farley admits. “My brother has been helping me now more than ever. I know for a fact that I can hit a curveball better than anybody now.
“(Luke) just kept throwing me freaking curveballs and I timed them up and started getting used to the spin and everything, and seeing the ball all the way through.”
That work has made Farley, a returning Class 2A first-team all-stater, an even tougher out this season. He owns a .579 batting average and is willing to draw walks with a .688 on-base percentage.
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In addition to what he offers at the plate, the senior is also a reliable first baseman and starting pitcher. He moved from a relief role on a team that featured first-team all-state ace Zach Miller into a consistent option within the starting rotation. Brock Farley also credits his brother for helping him find success attacking hitters with the right pitches according to the count.
“I know more of that side of the game, what pitch I need to throw,” Farley said. “Trying to hit spots is the biggest thing.”
As a whole, Denver has proven itself a team others don’t want to face in the postseason. The Cyclones have reached the last three state tournaments despite entering the playoffs with near .500 records.
This year’s Denver team (15-8) has put together a better regular season than the previous three state-qualifying squads and entered the week with wins in 10 of its last 11 games.
“I think the biggest thing is we have more depth than we’ve ever had,” Farley said. “We might be young, but the young players we have are really good.”
Rewerts has seen his team start to figure things out after making a couple lineup adjustments and moving players into new positions.
“We’ve always talked about the talent that we have and what we’re capable of doing, we just have to do it,” Denver’s coach said. “I think they’re finally seeing that and seeing what we’re capable of if we actually show up and play a full seven-inning game.”
With Farley at the plate, it’s tough to count Denver out. He recorded the game-winning hit to send the Cyclones to state as a freshman and went 3-for-3 with both of the team’s RBIs during last year’s state tournament opener.
“He’s just been a big bat in the middle of our lineup for five years,” Rewerts said of Farley who has also excelled in football, wrestling and track and field. “He’s one of those guys that we always know we can count on for getting runs.”